Arrested by the communists during the Korean War, a South Korean Christian was sentenced to die before a firing squad. But when the officer in charge learned that this man headed an orphanage, he changed the order. Instead, he forced the believer to watch as his 19-year old son was shot to death in his place.
Some time later the communist officer was captured by United Nations forces, tried, and condemned to die. But before the execution, the Christian whose son had been killed made an emotional plea in behalf of the officer, asking that he be released into his custody. His request was granted, and eventually the officer was converted to Christ and became a pastor.
This is a true story. How could that Christian find that kind of forgiveness?
Tags: forgiveness, Korean War, mercy
This week we will begin some discussion about Forgiveness, a powerful tool in our lives.
Back in 1999 wrestler-turned Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura took a beating for his comments in a Playboy magazine about religion being “a crutch for weak-minded people.” Local churches decided to respond by turning the other cheek. They paid for giant billboards around the Twin Cities that read “Strength training for the ‘weak-minded’.”
The ad was signed by Christian Churches of the Greater Twin Cities (CCGTC) as the latest in a series of high-profile media projects by the alliance of churches and advertising professionals.
“We are not mean-spirited,” said J.L. Glass, executive director, “and we were not trying to attack the governor, but we wanted to respond and show him that we had a sense of humor.”
Do you think that was a good way to repond, or what would be a better way?
Tags: forgiveness, signs, Ventura
Last week was our Fellowship’s Annual Convention. It was good to get together again with our dear friends who pastor churches all over the country or serve on the mission field around the globe. We heard challenging messages from some great and accomplished speakers, including Dr. Paul Walker, who formerly headed the Church of God denomination. Dr. Walker shared memories from his early days of pastoring and the miraculous outpouring of God’s Spirit in a great revival. I pray another great revival visits our nation.
Our Fellowship, CMI Int’l, is changing. We completely rewrote our By-Laws, restructuring the way we operate. Instead of having competitive elections for officers, we are reorganizing to be built on relationships. The entire fellowship of ministers will be overseen by twelve Pastoral Oversees, whose responsibility it will be to give pastoral care to ministers under him. And every member of CMI will choose which of the twelve he/she desires to connect with. That removes geographical boundaries and focuses upon relationships.
I was appointed to serve as one of those Pastoral Overseers for the next year. It will take a month to allow all of the CMI member ministers to respond and I know how many men/women will be under my care. Pray with me that God will give me the time and compassion to give proper care to these men and women of God.
In a Bill Moyers interview, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., made reference to the work of Marshall Klaus, one of her former colleagues at Stanford Medical School. Klaus, who was chief of the intensive care nursery, conducted an experiment in which half the babies in the nursery would be treated as usual, that is to say with high-tech incubators and millions of dollars of equipment, and the other half would be touched for fifteen minutes every few hours. Nurses would simply take their “pinky” finger and gently rub it down the backs of these tiny infants.
This was out of the ordinary as these intensive care babies were not often touched for fear of getting germs on them. The results were astounding. They discovered that the babies who were touched survived better. Dr. Remen said, “No one knows why. Maybe there’s something about touching that strengthens the will to live. Maybe isolation weakens us.”
What do you think is the secret of these babies’ increased survival?
Tags: babies, care, fellowship, touch
Deep within each of us is a desire to belong. We want to belong to a group of people where, in the words of the theme song from the sitcom Cheers, “everybody knows your name.” Some have called it our tribal instinct. Barbra Streisand sold millions of records singing about it. The lyrics “People, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world,” struck a responsive chord in the hearts of many. Employees stay on jobs because of it. People stay in churches because of it.
And that need to belong is one of the critical reasons for church. In church we acknowledge our need to belong to the Lord. As every school has a school spirit, so should every Christian. Understanding that, it makes me wonder why so many so-called believers don’t want to belong in a church. Don’t we understand those words spoken by the Hebrew writer, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25).
How do you feel about belonging?
In his book Why Christians Sin, J. Kirk Johnston tells about a young Russian woman who, before the collapse of the Iron Curtain, was allowed to visit her relatives in Canada. She was a devout Christian, and her friends assumed that she would defect and seek asylum in Canada or the US because of the religious oppression in the USSR. But they were wrong. She wanted to go back to her homeland.
This Russian woman said that people in the West were too busy acquiring material things and not concerned enough about their relationships. In her homeland, Christian fellowship was essential to their faith because it provided the support and encouragement they so desperately needed.
What do you think? Is America so materialistic that God needs to send persecution to get the church to come together? Would tribulation do any good? What do you think?
Tags: persecution, Russia, support
Trumpet legend Louis Armstrong grew up in rural Louisiana at the turn of the previous century. He told about his Aunt Haddie Mae sending him down to the pond to fetch a bucket of water. As he leaned over to get the water, an alligator surfaced and nearly scared him to death. He dropped the pail and ran back to the house as fast as he could.
Seeing he hadn’t brought the bucket with him, Aunt Haddie Mae asked him where the water was. Breathless, he told her about the alligator. She said, “You go back down there and fetch that water. And don’t you worry about that alligator. He’s just as afraid of you as you are of him.”
Louis replied, “Aunt Haddie Mae, if that alligator’s as afraid of me as I am of him, that water ain’t fit to drink!”
What’s your greatest fear?